The Florida Bar is the third largest bar association in the U.S. with over 106,000 active members. Headquartered in Tallahassee, the Florida Bar is a mandatory organization requiring all lawyers who want to practice in the state to join. The bar is responsible for regulating the state’s legal profession. It bears the burden of investigating attorney complaints and disciplining those found in violation of professional codes. The Florida Bar also governs the state’s registered paralegals.
The Florida Bar was officially founded in 1950. however, its origins date back as far as 1889 when a small group of lawyers formed the first informal association. The association eventually grew to become the Florida State Bar Association in 1907, which at the time did not require membership from state attorneys.
After World War II, an influx of attorneys moved to Florida, prompting calls from the state’s supreme court to make membership in the association mandatory. By 1950, the supreme court acquiesced and ruled that all attorneys practicing in the state must join the association, which was renamed the Florida Bar. Richard H. Hunt served as the bar’s first president.
Today, the Florida Bar is governed by a board of governors, which has 52 members. The members of the Florida Bar are elected with exception of the board president. The president of the board is selected by other members of the board. Board members also are not paid and instead volunteer their time. They can, however, seek reimbursement for costs like travel expenses to and from board meetings.
In addition to regulating the legal industry in the state, the Florida Bar also offers a number of free services to the public. Namely, it makes available a Find a Lawyer resource that people can use to locate lawyers in various legal areas.
Members of the public can also file complaints against lawyers on the Florida Bar website. The complaints are then investigated before any disciplinary measures are meted out in appropriate circumstances.
People who cannot afford to pay for their lawyers can check out the pro bono program as well as prepaid legal services offered through the Florida Bar. The website offers information on both of these programs, which have criteria that people must meet before being eligible for them.
The Florida Bar has a physical address of 651 East Jefferson Street in Tallahassee, 32399. Its headquarters are three blocks from the state capitol.